Friday, July 12, 2013

All the pieces fall together

I'm so tired I took a short nap this evening. I am glad my wife called when she did. I should be able to get to sleep now that it is approaching bed time. You'll understand later why I was so tired.

I do not believe in coincidence. I do have a strong belief in providence. I also believe that if we allow ourselves to be guided we develop into the person we are supposed to be.

I wish I could say I am a lace maker. I hope I can say it again soon. But what is it that makes me good at crafts of this type. One could say a love for tedium, but actually sometimes in the mist of meticulous endeavor I sometime just wish it would end. I actually can feel surges of stress going through my body and then I carry on with more energy than before. I suppose that is part of what we call tenacity.

The last few days have reminded me of how much my life is out of control and yet being lead.

Last Saturday we learned that my brother had left us on Thursday July 4, 2013. The authorities had told his neighbor that they would contact the family but they never did. We had to hear about it through neighbors and friends. In the end we were lucky to have a cousin who is a Corpus Christi Police Officer. He called the morgue and verified that indeed my brother was there.

Then comes the planning to leave. My youngest had a great day camp scheduled for this week and my wife really had to stay for other reasons. So my two older sons and myself would travel to my home town of Kingsville, Texas.

At first mom wanted me to wait until just before the service to come. She didn't want me to have to pay for a hotel. My wife, the Engineer, insisted that I go as soon as I could to help my mother. As always my wife was correct. I needed to be here. And it was good to have an excuse to leave my youngest. My two older boys have their computers, movies and books. They enjoyed staying in the hotel while I attended to my mother's needs. I hate to say it but my youngest would have put a bit more strain and limitations on my getting things done.

On Saturday while discussing the trip my wife thought I should consider buying a laptop computer so I would have something to occupy my mind when I wasn't busy. I talked her and myself out of this. I have a desk top and though ancient it serves me well for the most part.

Then on Sunday she said you really aught to go to Costco and look at laptops. So we went. And though I could not convince myself that I needed a laptop for some reason I bought one, a nice one.

So in all my preparation for the trip I also had to prepare the laptop. What files would I need what tools did I need to configure while on my home network. The normal system updates alone were taking forever on WiFi so I hooked it up directly. Given the really lame WiFi at the hotel it would probably still be running, if it didn't fail outright. The abomination of a network won't let me send emails from Windows Live Mail. I need to go to some website and prove that my email address is from a human. Fortunately my providers website and Microsoft's Hotmail site allow me to send email.

It turned out that the computer has been critical in dealing with the Funeral arraignments and one other associated task.

I have been communicating on FaceBook and it is through this site that the family has passed news of my brother's death and the arraignments. In one particular case one of my niece's cousins, who I know I met at the last few funerals sent a friend request and messaged me. She asked me to call her which I did within half an hour of her request. She had read the obituary and she needed to know what had happened to her uncle.

But the main thing that the computer was instrumental in was one of those many somethings that we are not always prepared for and I do not know if anyone else in the close family could have succeeded as I did. Partially because I have a background in computers and partially because I am the type of person who can enjoy the tedium of lace making.

One of the first task my family wanted me to do was to find a way to back up Paul's computer. I won't go into it here but there are a lot of things that have happened leading up to Paul's death that do not make any sense. He had rented a new laptop and sold his old computer. There was nothing, absolutely nothing on the computer. Oh, we wont go into how using his note book of passwords I was able to come up with the password for new new computer. But where were all his pictures and such?

One of the true oddities of recent events was that the police had locked down the trailer after his death. But they did let his estranged wife go in to get some clothes and she took his iPhone. She claimed that her's was dead and she used Paul's phone to call and let us know about his demise.

Mom did get the phone back fairly quickly but it was out of charge. It was when we went to check out the trailer and try and retrieve the data from his computer that I found the charger and we removed the cable from the computer. My niece charged the phone over night and we went to the AT&T store to have the number changed so she could use the phone.

It was when we meet at the AT&T store that we discovered that he had a lock on his phone. Since I had just the day before broken the code to his computer it took three tries to unlock the phone.

We did change the number and put a new SIM card in the phone. They were going to reset the phone to factory defaults when I asked the clerk if there was a way to retrieve things like contacts or photographs. She didn't have a way at the store so I said I would try and we could reset it later. Then the stark blight of my toil began.

I hooked the phone to my computer and went to look at the photos. Only Camera Roll showed up on my computer so I called AT&T. The very nice and helpful clerk soon admitted that this was more of an Apple thing so on came Amber. The first clerk had explained how Camera Roll is where the pictures you take with the iPhone reside. The other folders were synced from a computer. Amber very nicely explained that iPhones are not meant to trade data between different computers but given the situation they would try to come up with a work around. The two she came up with would have taken days with substandard results.

While she was researching I was looking at various functions on the iPhone. I finally asked what is Photo Stream. This resulted in a bright flash of light and a loud gong sound. She did a little research and we started testing. We selected a couple of pictures in one of the folders by first clicking edit and then tapping the photos. We then selected share, tapped photo stream, tapped create new photo stream, tap next and finally post. Then we opened the photo stream then again tap edit, tap the photos, tap share, tap Camera Roll. It actually took several tries to get this sequence but now we had it. I thanked her. It was a 42 minute phone exchange.

And then it began. Attach the phone to my computer. Copy Camera Roll to my computer, delete the contents of Camera Roll. Go to the phone. Open a folder. Select edit and then tap every photo, select share, select photo stream, create or add to a photo stream, tap next and tap post. Open the photo stream, select edit and then every photo, select share, select Camera Roll. Wait and then disconnect the phone from the computer, reconnect the phone to the computer. A then you repeat the process with a different folder.

At some point I discovered that somewhere around 500 pictures the process stops. So for the fuller folders I had to extract the photos in groups of three to four hundred.

So here is where being used to repetitive, meticulous crafts paid off. There were 15 folders with a total of 3,518 photos each of which I touched at least twice. With mistakes and the like some photos were touched more that twice.

After this I kept one complete set, Paul's widow wanted everything saved. I found an app to retrieve the contacts, but I did not extract the music. It was Paul's phone they were separated, so I did not want to deal with ownership issues of copyrighted music.

I do not wish to seam cold but she is lucky to get what I will be giving her. I did not want to transfer all of the photos. Some are not appropriate to my moral outlook. But at this point I took on the persona of an archivist and I did want to save everything for the widow. She was in a lot of the pictures. Fortunately not any of the questionable ones. This process along with resetting the phone took over 12 hours, not counting the phone call.

There was a reason for expediency. The funeral home, but more so, my mother and my niece wanted wanted pictures of Paul and his grand kids for a video montage to run during the funeral and I had to get the pictures to the Funeral Director by 9:00 am.

I needed to find some pictures and I need to remove any objectionable pictures so I could make a DVD for my mother and my niece. I went through every picture and selected the ones we needed and deleted the ones inappropriate for my niece and mother. In addition to the porn, my niece had told me she wanted to have nothing to do with guns, not even see them. There were several pictures of just guns and a few with her father with a gun. Including what I think was the gun.

I emailed the pictures to the Funeral Director at 2:38 in the morning and reset her phone. My niece now as a like new from the factory iPhone 5 and we will have pictures of my brother with his grand kids and I am able to look back on my life and my recent chance purchase and see how I was uniquely prepared to help my family in this endeavor. Even that one decision to pay a little more for a DVD drive. I was told most people just down load stuff now. But I will be leaving three DVDs here, which would not exist but for everything that lead to this day. It would have been sad for my niece to lose these memories. Now to bed and then its time to say good bye.

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