Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Friday, December 7, 2018

Catch as Catch Can

My sweet Luna & Cottonwoods.  Yarnell.

October was full of large-scale photographic trip, to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Northwestern New Mexico, and Arizona’s White Mountains.

November was a little different.  My computer crisis was a decidedly unsatisfying way to spend a couple of weeks.  Then there was El Tour de Tucson and the Through each Other’s Eyes 30th Anniversary Exhibit.  Much as I wanted to get out and shoot, there just wasn’t much time.

There were, however, a few opportunities.
1920s spotting device, South Rim Grand Canyon
An out-of-town visitor is always a good excuse to indulge in a little tourism myself.  This particular friend, from Ohio, had never seen the Grand Canyon.  We had a lovely visit to Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden (During the Día de los Muertos celebration) and to Walnut Canyon, as well as an overnight stay at the big ditch.  I didn’t shoot a lot and most of what I did was phone snaps, but I did drag her up the road to Shoshone Point for sunrise.  We had some great walks on the rim, too.

Lake Pleasant Sunrise
I snuck away a couple of times to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, once for an overnighter.  It was quiet there, and in the dark the herd of wild burros was a little unnerving.  I hadn’t been to the lake in quite a while.  Arizona Highways ran one of my images made there in the November issue, which reminded me that this park is really close and quite pretty.

Watson Lake Moonset
My husband an I scrapped our Thanksgiving road trip because he’s concentrating on building our new house.  His blog about that is called “Where’s my Hammer,” by the way.  I considered traveling alone but decided instead to stay with him in Yarnell and do day trips.  The decision turned out to be serendipitous as another walk in the dark, this time at Watson Lake in Prescott, yielded some of my favorite images of the year.  Cottonwoods were at peak in Yarnell and Prescott about that time.  The header image of my dog and cottonwoods in Yarnell makes me smile.  I know; it’s probably a shot only a mother could love.
Moonrise over Downtown Los Angeles
Last weekend the whole family gathered for my Mom’s 90th birthday in LA.  Long-time readers will remember that my sister lives in a 25th floor condo.  I couldn’t resist getting up Sunday at 2:00 AM to see the crescent moon come up over downtown, all in my jammies.

I’ve managed to put a band-aid on this antsy-ness, but in truth I’m really looking forward to our solstice road trip.  Stay tuned.

That's it for the Autumn 2018 gallery; its time for the winter shoots.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Brownies (And Bicycles)

That's me, grinding away
I want to tell you about my ride, but first the important part.

In Rotary we call this The Ride to End Polio.  It’s a part of the famous El Tour de Tucson, a 36-year tradition and traffic nightmare in the Old Pueblo.

Since the 1980s Rotary has partnered with WHO, CDCP, UNICEF and (lately) with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation toward the eradication of the disease.  Endemic polio exists in only three countries now and worldwide eradication is nearly here. 

I won’t bore you with more than my one favorite statistic; 17.4 million people who would have been disabled by polio since this project began are not.  Let that one sink in.

The Fam, post ride

This year it was a family ride.  My nephew, his wife, her dad and I all rode 52 miles and lived to tell about it.  We didn’t see much of each other during the ride, and though I had some short conversations with folks on occasion I was mostly on my own.  The plan was to keep it casual, but I got swept right up in the excitement and decided to see what I could do.  That is, I got rather competitive with myself.  This was the longest distance I’ve ridden and I’ll estimate that, subtracting the rest stops, I held about a 4:10 pace.  That’s really remarkable only to me, but I’m darn proud of it!

Perhaps you've experienced a physical challenge that becomes mostly mental.  I’ve felt that on some hikes, like the Mount Whitney climb I did before I crossed the threshold into middle age.  It’s tough but feels pretty cool to get past that point.  On Saturday, I had an unlikely savior.  I was planning to grind right past the last rest stop, at about 46 miles.  They had a sign out on the route that said “brownies.”  Oh my.  Laugh at me if you must, but those (two!) brownies were the mental boost and attitude adjustment I needed to get it done.  They were good, too.

I’m incredibly grateful to the donors who supported polio eradication in honor of this ride.  My current total is $6042, which will be matched 2:1 by the Gates Foundation to $18,126.  In case you’re wondering, its not too late to donate; ask me how!

Beth, my riding partner from last year, popped up on social media saying she’s excited about riding in 2019.  I haven’t ruled out the possibility but am reminded of a thought I had when I was working as an Obstetrician.  It’s OK to ask a new mom if she’s going to have another baby, but not so OK to ask in the delivery room.

Beth could probably talk me into it with brownies, though.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fail, Fail, Fail, Win

Carbonite; Not the good guys.

So, I had a computer drive fail.  3.6TB of image files, basically 15 years of photography.

As it turned out, my Raid array had also failed, so I was left with my third and final copy, with Carbonite.  In case you don’t know, they’re a cloud backup service.  My purpose in writing this blog, in addition to venting, is to dissuade you from doing business with them.

90 is not a few

I set up their “restore” utility and started to download my files.  It was slow, but the window said I’d need to wait “a few days.”  Fair enough.  The next morning I did the math, and found that the actual time to completion would be about 90 days.  More than a few by any definition and too long for me, so I reluctantly paid $99 for them to courier a physical drive to me.  They said I’d have it in one to three days.  I put my life on hold for the signature-required delivery and waited to hear from them.  The drive arrived after six days, and (I discovered after copying files overnight) was missing the last 6 months of my work.  Who knows more might be missing, but my image folders are labeled by month so I could see that gaping hole at a glance.

Even better, a text file on the messengered drive listed the files not downloaded because they were corrupted.  This is expected, and I wasn’t going to get upset about a few lost images.  That is, until I saw the number of corrupted files: 218,384.  Yes, really.

I spent an hour on the phone with them, my “case” being “escalated” and hanging out on hold waiting for one dude to “talk to a manager.” At this point, any response except “we made a mistake and we’re going to bend over backward to make it right” was unacceptable.  I asked, could they just send another drive?  No, they would “assign an agent,” who would call me about the issues within 24 business hours, which meant Wednesday, I guess, this being Friday.  I asked for clarification but got none.

At this point, I took my drive to Data Doctors and brought them a nice fresh external hard drive in the hopes that they could salvage data and put it there.  For $99 they do diagnostics and if there’s anything to save they charge another $150.  Money well-spent, and they were kind and professional.

The Carbonite “Senior Escalation Team Member” Emailed me, offering to speak with me by phone.  The email came in at 1:55PM.  They’re in Boston, so that’s likely 5 minutes before he left for the weekend.  I answered less than ten minutes later but heard nothing until Monday when he offered me a telephone appointment Wednesday.

By then I had heard the good news from Data Doctors that they’d made a full recovery from my bad disk.  I was not so anxious to work with Carbonite at that point, but did have some questions.  In summary I learned that the 200,000 plus files were indeed corrupted.  Maybe they could reduce that number but there were no guarantees.  Also, the last six months of my work were not going to be recoverable.  They just didn’t have them.

I’ll be shopping for another service of course but as for you, please think twice before hiring this company, even if you don’t have a large amount of data.

Here’s wishing you only good luck with your backups!