three moves equals one house fire

the last known photo of my data....

I’m not sure why this phrase isn’t all over the Internet but my folks always say that three moves equals one house fire. This is especially true if a move is accompanied by a data disaster. But let me back up and let me tell you about my backups.

This is the first time I’ve moved in to my own apartment. I’ve lived alone before in various ways (caretaker of an Odd Fellows Hall, caretaker for Ola’s place, first or last roommate in an apartment share, bought a house) but not me and my stuff moving into an empty place. It’s sort of neat. The space is nice and I’ve put some photos up. Moving day was amazing. Ten people and six cars and most stuff was moved in about 45 minutes. There was a short list of post move-in problems including the landlady’s smoke detector beeping non-stop for the first few days, a little bit of leaking during the downpour (renter’s insurance on the way!) and a collapse of the shelves in the closet which were holding my stereo equipment (yes I am old enough to have stereo equipment) also since repaired. Fortunately, the closet is also one of the guestrooms, so there was a mattress on the floor and my stereo is fine. I’m not sure if I mentioned, but the camera I dropped in the toilet last week is also fine.

I was not so lucky with my hard drive. I was using my laptop, just plugged into the wall, in an old house while a roofer used power equipment outside. Past experience has shown me that this is a bad idea. However, a lesson you learn once every ten years tends to not sink in well. At some point my laptop’s hard drive stopped working and did not start working again. I have spare laptops. I even have backups. However, my backups are a few months old meaning I’m missing a chunk of photos, chat transcripts, work documents, calendar junk and stuff I probably don’t even remember. I thought I could tough it through this, but I’m rethinking that position. This is a problem money can solve and I may want to use some of my money to solve it. If anyone has suggestions for decent data recovery places, please feel free to let me know.

Otherwise unpacking and readjusting is going well. I slept in my new apartment finally. It’s hella quiet and dark here which pleases me. I’m still trying to figure out how to create counterspace in my kitchen and maximize the very few grounded outlets here. I think I’ve learned which corner of the house my cell phone actually works in and the wifi I share with my landlady seems to work well as long as she’s not on the phone, which may be good enough. I’m getting okay with being only approximately contactable. I mentioned this on Twitter a while ago (re: Neal Stephenson) and wound up getting namechecked on 43 Folders. Woo. Maybe it will catch on. If not, postcards always reach me, albeit slowly.

What do you think?


  1. “my folks always say that three moves equals one house fire” — my MIL has said many times that “3 moves is as good as a fire,” which I guess amounts to the same thing. Before we bought our house, I had moved 10 times in 10 years, so I know the feeling!

    Every so often I have a pang of regret for some book that I probably tossed 8 or 9 years ago, but mostly, I think it’s a good thing. I have to fight the packrat-ism pretty hard otherwise.

    Perhaps it would be a good investment to get a UPS to smooth out your power, given the sketchiness of electricity in old buildings. :)

  2. You’re still the best blogger, writer (and of course artist) in the world.

    One big fan,

    Doug from CT

  3. I found your article after receiving this blessing from my mentor at work (who is from Russia) for taking time off to move into my first home: “two times moving from house to house equals one time house fire”. I knew the moment I read it that it was special and one of those funny sayings from another language and culture that do not translate very well, or translate hilariously. But I get it now — it means that moving is a big deal, and a big hassle – not to be taken lightly. Many fires to put out, so to speak.