Blow on it.
Today I had one of those terribly traumatic days. It did not start out that way. I was perhaps a little stressed because of the looming deadlines in my life, which seem to be amassing with ever greater urgency (bear with me, this is relevant to the trauma).
At any rate, I made it through a day at the library all right. I had a minor setback around lunch time, when I realised I could not remember the pin for my British debit card, and that coffee would therefore not be forthcoming. It may sound like a minor problem but that sort of thing can quite easily puncture a good day. I should have seen the signs.
Despite the forces of destiny obviously conspiring against me and plotting my eventual downfall, I did manage to change the settings for my computer so that it not only shows a screen saver, but also requires a password to drop it. This is part of my evil plan to annoy anyone who might decide to steal my mac one day while I am having lunch. Little did I know ... but I am getting ahead of myself.
Once I returned home, Tor and I left our computers and headed out for dinner. I do not know whether mine felt lonely or abandoned, jealous because Tor is getting all the attention, or whether it just really hated the new screensaver; when we got back it just clicked at me, told me I had removed a drive without ejecting it properly.
My first reaction was to point out that this was lies and damned lies. It didn't like that. Finder froze and then pretended not to exist. And when we turned it off it clicked some more and refused to start up again. All we got was a blinking folder with a giant question mark. I made use of my brilliant brain and thorough education in the interpretation of signs and concluded it could not find some crucial folder or other.
Cue slight panic. Not the panic you would get if I could not just hand the damned thing over to my computer savvy fiancé, but genuine worry nonetheless. Tor googled for a while and then concluded nothing could be done: our best option would be to wait until the morning and purchase a new hard drive. I was quite happy with my obsessive use of backup, which meant none of my PhD stuff would be missing; not so happy my backup of Delicious Library is several months out of date.
Driven by this latter annoyance, I suggested we try to run my mac as a slave to Tor's. It looked good for a while. By that I mean that my screen pretended to play along, showing the firewire logo dancing happily across it. But no amount of firewire could induce it to communicate with Tor's mac, or even give any sign of its existence (for the benefit of windows people, I feel I should point out that for a mac this is not normal behaviour).
Tor gave up. In a final burst of optimism I suggested we take out the battery and blow on it. In my experience this works wonders for all kinds of technological doodads gone kaplooi, and I have come to consider it the modern equivalent of a good thump (which used to work quite well back in the day, but which is not really an option with gadgets designed to stop working if you look at them too hard -- ie my current phone).
Tor laughed. The way you laugh at a child suggesting something cute and outlandish and entirely futile.
In the end he did it anyway, with the indulgent look the grownup dealing with such a child would have. If only in order to show that it will never work, but aren't you adorable &c.
We took out the battery, shook it a little (you never know), blew a little on the battery and into the enclosure. Tor explained that it would have no effect whatsoever.
We turned it back around, pressed the power button ... and watched my mac come back to life.
I laughed so hard I almost died.