Article Overview:  Computer Terrorism fouled my publication for nearly three weeks...but now, I'm up and operating again.  Or, so I think.   Find out how to wrestle the Beast of Computer Terror, or, at least, how I managed to wriggle free of the Beast's grasp.


Wednesday--October 22, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 770
Computer Terrorism Finally Fouled
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Oct. 22, 2003-- The new television series, Threat Matrix, doesn't have much on me.

Cast of new television series "Threat Matrix" --- I could  be a cast member as I attempted to thwart the Beast of Computer Terror

      After nearly three weeks of intensive attacks against Computer Terrorism, I finally captured the Beast of Computer Terror--at least, for the moment.
      But the Beast of Computer Terror lurks within all hard drives.  He stalks cyberspace, eager to infect all of us who are seduced with the Powers of Technology and rely on its power to issue our "words of wisdom" to those who might possibly stumble upon our websites and find what we have to say worthy of note.
      My saga started in late September when I made a trip to California to clean out a storage bin where the remnants of our past life were stored.  Nearly four years ago, come this November, we packed up our belongings and moved from Dana Point, California to the East Village to be close to our two daughters and grandchildren.
     My wife, Lori, had just completed chemotherapy following her breast cancer operation, and we decided to live near our children.  We elected to give up the sunshine and sunsets that daily washed over the Pacific Coast that made our lives in Orange County, California a reflection of what Paradise Found was really like.

I enjoyed one last beach picnic at Capistrano Beach before heading back to New York City

       The cost of the trip was an "E" ticket to the concrete megalopolis of New York City: a bursting city with more than 8 million diverse peoples traversing the Crossroads of the World, as Times Square is called.  I felt a surge of desire to return to Manhattan, a place that is ever evolving upon the pages of history.  It's history ranges from the place where George Washington was inaugurated in 1789 to the epicenter of a tragic assault on our nation on September 11, 2001.  Then there was the blackout on August 15 of this year that cast the Big Apple into shocking darkness ( for 29 hours in the East Village).  Last week a ferry we had ridden the day before to Staten Island crashed, killing ten people.  There is never any respite from history's hand opening and closing in the city.
       New York was now home to a host of other filial events including the birth of another grandchild, the marriage of our younger daughter, and an accumulation of nearly 2 million words were written for this website about the battle between Vigilance and the Beast of Terror.  Paradise was now the diversity and excitement of the city, not the slurping, lapping sounds of the Pacific washing upon the shores of Dana Point.

My good friend and I drove the rented Penske truck to New York City

         I sold as much of the belongings as possible, gave the rest to Goodwill, packed up a 16-foot Penske truck, cajoled a good friend of mine to ride with me, and barreled back to New York City in a record 55 hours that covered 3,300 miles.  (I took a small detour to Clayton, NY, near the Canadian border to drop off some items to a friend).
      While I was gone my wife and co-editor, Lori, scanned our website and posted stories from the archives that were relevant to today's issues.  It was an exercise in remembering that all things cycle, that there are no new issues, only old ones with new names.

Arnold Schwarzenegger with wife Maria Shriver - a symbol of the people of California placing a Sentinel of Vigilance up against the Beast of Political Terror

     Arnie The Terminator was up for election in California's recall--a symbol of the people's desire to place a Sentinel of Vigilance up against the Beast of Political Terror.   His platform was politically non-existent, except for his symbolic posture that he was there to "rid the Beasts" of their lair within the California budget, and to restore confidence in a system of government that was bruised and battered.
      I rushed back to New York City with two thoughts in mind.   First, our younger daughter was getting married.   She is a federal agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency, and fell in love with a NYPD detective from the Bronx.   Their wedding was on October 11, just a few short days after my return to New York from California.
      The second urgent issue was to return to my website, and lavish eager readers with Vigilance Thoughts so they could protect themselves from the Beast of Terror's constant drumming.
       The good news was the wedding was progressing on schedule.  The bad news, my hard drive failed and crashed upon my return.

The bad news:  my hard drive crashed and burned upon my return

        It was a nightmare.   Replacing the hard drive and reestablishing all the data was a trip through the bowels of the Beast of Terror.    I thought I had backed up my data, but when I went in search of it, my backup was littered with programs that didn't match what I had put in.
        I installed a new hard drive, only to find I installed the old one again.  I had to take it out and reinstall it.  Eventually, my wife and I did find a little humor in this mishap.
        Then the computer wouldn't boot up.  No matter what I did, it refused to recognize the new drive.   For seven days I was in contact with HP technicians in India trying to resolve the issue.  HP uses computer techs around the world, mostly from New Delhi.    I didn't care at that point if I was talking to Osama bin Laden as long as I could get my computer up and operating.
        I grew accustomed to the accents after a few days of countless calling and recalling, and realized that a person's nationality has nothing to do with the technocracy or their human compassion for another person crying over crashed hard drives.
       Finally, in the 11th hour, the last tech from New Delhi spent more than four hours with me and we got the system booted.  It began to gobble up the programs I was eager to install.
       Computer Terrorism.

Fear, Intimidation and Complacency wracked my mind and body

       Fear, Intimidation, Complacency wracked my mind and body.    At each step of the reconstruction process I ran into a snag.  Installing this program and then that one was a chore and then the worst event--my website backup wasn't found.
        I feared I would lose critical data.  I gingerly tried to download my huge site from the web.  It moved like a snail and then snagged up on the rocks of a 53k modem.   I sought out a computer expert to help download the site and never heard back from him.
       Finally, I looked in one more place for a "pure backup" and discovered I had a reasonable copy stored in my laptop.   I began reconstructing the site and last night fired up the publish command and waited to see if it would load.
       I was watching the Yankees and Marlins battle the Terror of Weather, pitchers throwing 90 mph pitches in drenching rain as my computer whirred and sent signals to my main server.
       Finally, I checked to see if the upload was successful.  It wasn't.
       I reloaded.
       I hit "publish to web" again and crossed my fingers.
       The site was up.

Vigilance isn't waiting around -- it's about beating the drums and ringing the Liberty Bell

       It still had bugs, but the essence of the site was once again beaming out its Vigilant face to any and all who might bump into it.
       I confess my marketing skills of the site are sophomoric to say the least.  I grind out the words and thoughts with passionate dispatch, but am frankly inept at marketing it to the world.
      I'm the guy who wrongly thinks that the world will beat a path to the door of the "better mousetrap."  Truth is, you need to beat a path to the people's doors.
       Vigilance isn't about waiting for Godot.  It's about beating the drums and ringing the Liberty Bell.
        But, despite all the good and bad of life, the good prevails.
        Our daughter wedded her love.   All the computer failures, all the crashed hard drives, all the websites lost or found could not mar the beauty of October 11, 2003.

All the computer failure couldn't mar the beauty of my younger daughter's wedding at the Van Cortlandt historical museum

        That was the date of our daughter's wedding--a gala event held in the Bronx at beautiful Van Cortlandt Park.
         Both daughters are Sentinels of Vigilance.  The older has her Masters of Divinity, three children, and works with marginalized people, instilling hope and faith in many who are hopeless and faithless.   I call her the Sentinel of the Cross.
         Our younger daughter who was just married carries two 9mm Glocks.   As a federal drug agent, she protects the world from the Beast of Drug Terror.   Daily, she puts her life on the line to thwart those who would feed the children and parents drugs that cloud the vision of life.
          At the wedding, our daughters were one reflection of life.   One with a gun, the other with a cross.   Both fight the Beast of Terror in their own way, willing to face the dangers of the streets, its poverty, its hunger to suck down people into the cracks of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
          Their jobs are to instill in themselves and as many others as possible the Courage, Conviction and Right Actions necessary to face the Beast of Terror who stalks us all in his nefarious ways.
           I was proud of both of them, and most proud that the Beast of Terror knows that to infiltrate our children's families he has to amass such an army that he may just give up before he starts.

It would have been easy for me to give in to The Beast of Computer Terror

         It would have been equally easy for me to give up on my website--to consider the failure of the hard drive, and the seeming loss of data as a symbol to stop trying to get the world to subscribe to the Pledge of Vigilance.
          I guess the heroism of my daughters rubbed off on me.
          I'm still here.  Still publishing.  Still struggling to do my small part in fighting the Beast.
          You can do yours too.    You can take the Pledge of Vigilance.  


Oct. 1--Civilizing The Beast Of War

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