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January 5th, 2007


"Gleep" is a word from my distant past, from my college days in the chess club at Northwestern University. It's what you say when you suddenly realize that you have have just made a very bad move, your opponent has just made a very good move, and/or your position is hopelessly lost. Started as the favorite expression of one guy, but the whole club soon picked it up and started using it, and GLEEP actually became the name of our NU chess club newsletter.

I hadn't uttered a "gleep" in decades, but one escaped my lips this morning, when I sat down and logged on to AOL and suffered some sort of strange computer hiccup... after which, suddenly, my Personal Filing Cabinet and Favorite Places were both completely empty.

More than three thousand emails and a couple of hundred bookmarks wiped out in the blink of an eye.


This sort of thing used to happen every six months or so with the early versions of AOL, but the more recent versions seemed to have fixed the problem, and I haven't had my bookmarks or filing cabinet vanish on me since 1998. I thought the system was finally stable, and got a bit complacent, I guess.

Of course, there are now automatic backups built in to the system, and of course I have been trying to use them all morning, to see if I can get anything back. So far, no good. In the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, as I was still trying to figure out what had happened, four new emails arrived in about a minute. I deleted them and went back to troubleshooting. Unfortunately now, when I try the restore function, it just seems to restore the four post-gleep emails, and not the thousands of older ones that were sitting in my filing cabinet last night.

I haven't given up yet, but I am starting to feel glum.

Some days I truly hate computers.

Lest anyone have a heart attack, let me hasten to add that this has NOT affected A DANCE WITH DRAGONS or any of my other work-in-progress. I do my writing on a completely different computer than the one I use for email and the internet, in part to guard against viruses, worms, and nightmares like this. My work machine does not even use Windows (which I loathe). I write with WordStar 4.0 on a pure DOS-based machine. Mock if you must... but WordStar and DOS are both stable as rocks, and never give me the sort of headaches I get from Windows. (I won't even talk about Microsoft Word, about which I have nothing printable to say).

So my novel is safe. It's just my emails that are lost.

I suppose, if I can't fix this, I could try to look at it as a sort of liberation. Last night I had more than three thousand emails awaiting answers. This morning I have none.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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