Sunday, July 25, 2010

Flashes in the Windows

After days of sizzling, muggy weather, the utterly still air suddenly began to move yesterday evening, accompanied by a definite drop in temperature. I was looking forward to a little rain, for relief from the mind-numbing heat, so the distant muttering of thunder would have pleased me even if I weren't a thunderstorm fan.

"Cool!" I thought to myself, and cool it soon became. I should have listened to the little inner voice saying "Be careful what you ask for".

Up in  the Saitama/Gunma border country, thunderstorms can be pretty dramatic. That's fine with me, since I really enjoy the flashing and crashing and booming. Down in the largely rural flood plain at the base of mountains to the west and north, with few tall buildings and virtually no hills, the view of lightning bolts striking all around the horizon is spectacular, too.

After a sweltering day punctuated with PA system public service announcements urging citizens to avoid "entenka"--"being under the burning sky"...very poetic and very accurate--I was looking forward to a short, violent, squall-like summer shower.

I wasn't looking forward to the multiple brief power outages caused by some apparently very close lightning strikes. I definitely wasn't expecting to be unable to reboot my computer after the first blackout. The prospect of losing all kinds of data and applications was a shock, and when I tried to recover, the operating system's helpful suggestion that I repartition my hard drive (accompanied by the diffident comment that this would destroy any data on the drive) quite ruined the great mood that the thunderstorm had brought.

Since I didn't like that advice, and since although I couldn't get Windows to boot in any mode at all, I did get a very brief Windows splash screen and a too-fast-for-the human-eye-to-follow error message with the infamous blue background, I decided that maybe there was still hope for the data on the drive, so I tried other alternatives instead. It took a while, during which I said some pretty vile things about both the OS and my so-called surge protector.

I did finally get the system back up and functioning, though, with no significant damage that I can see. An unexpectedly happy ending, and an educational one: when lightning flashes started illuminating my windows again this evening, and the artillery of the gods began to rumble, I shut down the PC. Some Windows are better shut during storms.

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